The car retailing industry in Australia will be under scrutiny from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission after a high volume of complaints about defects.

The ACCC takes action!

The ACCC launched a market study focusing on competition and consumer issues that may be prevalent in the industry. ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says “A new car is a significant purchase for consumers and more than 1 million new cars are sold in Australia each year. Consumer issues concerning new car retailing is a priority area for the ACCC.” Consumers have been sending a lot of complaints to the ACCC and other Australian Consumer Law agencies. These complaints are mostly regarding a wide range of vehicle defects from a broad spectrum of manufacturers.

One of the high profile cases which prompted this study is the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee accident which killed actor Anton Yelchin. Fiat Chrysler has started a voluntary recall of some 1.1 million vehicles which includes the 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers, and Chrysler 300 models. The complaints revolve around the shifter which has been reportedly confusing drivers who couldn’t tell between the “drive” and “park” position. To date, there are at least 41 related injuries, not including the death of Yelchin.

Additionally, the Volkswagen emissions scandal has signalled the need to look into misleading and deceptive practices in performance, fuel efficiency, fuel consumption and emissions.

The ACCC is aware that consumers are having difficulty enforcing their consumer guarantee rights provided by manufacturers. The watchdog will now be looking into manufacturers and retailers to determine if they are indeed complying with the Australian Consumer Law, which obligates them to offer replacements or refunds for significant defects.

The other areas in which the study focused on were the effect on competition and consumers of post-sale care arrangements (such as servicing), and whether consumers and businesses could be affected by any restrictions on vehicle access to data. You can expect to see a draft report of the findings sometime in the first quarter of 2017.

This report comes as good news for all consumers when our rights are protected, and industry practices meant to take advantage of us will soon be under the microscope. Anything that protects consumer rights will be ultimately beneficial to the industry, including the manufacturers and retailers. When consumers become more confident in buying a car, and they no longer fear being ripped off, consumer spending will come more freely, which is good news for manufacturers and retailers.

While waiting for the car industry to get its act together, people who require cars but don’t want to purchase one just yet can opt to hire a car. Companies like Alpha Car Hire have a lot of dependable, late model cars for hire at very competitive prices. This way, you don’t have to wait or spend so much to have access to a new car.